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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Noindex URL has incoming hreflang

A particular URL is marked as a hreflang alternate but is also tagged as noindex.


Why is this important?

Hreflang tags are signals to search engines for indexing versions of a page in different languages. For instance, an English page with an hreflang for its French variant tells search engines to index both language versions.


If a noindex tag is also present, it contradicts the instruction by indicating that the said English page should not be indexed.


This inconsistent guidance can confuse search engines, potentially leading them to disregard the hreflang directive altogether.


What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization flags any URL that is listed as a hreflang alternate but has a noindex directive.


Note: This Optimization is akin to 'Has outgoing hreflang annotations to noindex URLs'. However, this one focuses on incoming hreflang annotations (the target of hreflang), whereas the other one looks at outgoing hreflang (the origin).


Examples that trigger this Optimization:


This Optimization would be triggered if this URL contained a noindex in the head:

<!doctype html><html lang="en"><head>  <title>Page Title</title>  <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">  <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/es/page-a/" hreflang="es-es" />  <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/fr/page-a/" hreflang="fr-fr" />   ...</head><body>...</body></html>


or if indicated in the HTTP header:

HTTP/... 200 OK...X-Robots-Tag: noindex


and the URL is noted as an hreflang alternate on another page, or it refers to itself with a self-referencing hreflang:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/us/page-a/" hreflang="en-us" /><link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/fr/page-a/" hreflang="fr-fr" />


How do you resolve this issue?

This Optimization is labeled 'Critical' as it indicates an issue that can significantly harm organic search visibility. Resolving Critical issues should be a top priority.

The contradiction between hreflang and noindex must be resolved. If hreflang is set correctly, the solution is to remove the noindex directive from all hreflang URLs.

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